Biennale Venice 2016 (Part 1)

When I decided to go to Venice this week I knew that I had to go visit the Biennale, a contemporary art exhibition. It was founded in 1895 and it encompasses arts, architecture, cinema, dance, music and theater. Since 1909 the Art Biennale and the Architecture Biennale have been organized on three pillars:

  • The National Pavilions, where each pavilion has its own exhibition, curator and project
  • The International Exhibition by the Biennale curator
  • Special Events

The Architecture Biennale in Venice, recognized as the best international architectural exhibition in the world, had just gotten started by the time of my arrival. I decided to go the Giardini exhibition instead of the Arsenal because of a recommendation by a Professor of mine. It was a little bit away for all the tourist places and a very welcome break from the crowded areas. In the Giardini there are 30 pavilions representing a country or region, and since it was my first visit at the Biennale, I didn’t know what to expect. I had only previously heard of Reporting from the Front, directed by the Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena.

So I asked myself, how will they show an architecture exhibition in the Pavilions? Will they be about new and different styles? Or about the newest and most innovative buildings in the different countries? When I got the ticket I saw that the winning pavilion (Spain) was right around the corner. As I entered, I was truly impressed by how they presented the architectural theme in such a creative way. Under the title Unfinished, the pavilion presented a series of photographs of incomplete construction projects, alongside 55 recent buildings that demonstrate a range of solutions to working under economic constraints. There were five rooms in total, and as you enter, you are presented with the biggest installation. Metal frames with eleven sections each that resembled construction steel frames, hanging from the ceiling with enough space for you to walk in between and examine photographs. The three adjacent rooms contained additional metal frames showing pairs of blueprints and photographs of their respective unfinished projects. The 5th and final room had looped interviews from architects talking about subjects like the influence of migration in architecture.

The collection seeks to separate the style and age of buildings from their core, the most basic representation of brick and mortar, support beams and metal structure. In doing so, the curators draw the attention of the visitor to the construction of the building and to how space is used, and not to the finished project or façade, and what it represents culturally. (Curators: Iñaqui Carnicero, Carlos Quintás)

There were so many interesting projects put forward by the pavilions that if I were to review them all, it would take ages. Therefore, there will be one more post dedicated to the main pavilion soon, and then I will move on. As a tip, you should set apart an entire day to visit the Biennale. I was there for 2 hours and it wasn’t enough to see all the art and different presentations in all of the pavilions. Also: bring a lot of water!



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